Soul Sacrifice (Available exclusively on PlayStation Vita)
ESRB Rating: M
Number of Players: 1 to 4
Genre: Action RPG
Release Date: April 30th, 2013
PSN: Online co-op
Parent Talk: Soul Sacrifice is rated M for mature because of blood and gore, suggestive themes, and violence. This isn’t a game for kids. After you defeat each enemy you have to decide if you will sacrifice their soul or save them. The game also features many grotesque images.
Plays Like: It’s easy to say it plays like any other dungeon crawler/action RPG, but that would be doing an injustice to the game. In truth it plays unlike most other games in the genre. Full details are contained within the review itself.
Review Basis: Finished the single player campaign.
Mega Man creator Keiji Inafune has created what many were hoping would be the PlayStation Vita’s killer app. While that’s not exactly the case here, he has put together a fun, albeit highly repetitive, action RPG that fans of the genre will surely enjoy. Featuring a very unique decision-making mechanic that allows players to customize their character as they see fit, Soul Sacrifice is far more advance than I originally though, and it just might surprise you.
You literally have the choice to change your character anyway you want. During a mission’s onset players must decide which six abilities to bring with them. Abilities include everything from magical spells to melee attacks. As players progress more and more abilities are fused together or discovered. The tricky, and fun part is in balancing which abilities you bring with you and how you handle yourself during combat. You can only use these six abilities a handful of times during any given quest, and in order to replenish them you have to sacrifice the souls of your enemies. If you decide to spare your enemy’s soul, you gain an HP boost, but sometimes at the cost of your abilities. Boss characters go one step further, by saving one you can then ask that person to join your party later on. By carefully planning out your attack strategy you can create the character you’re most interested in playing. If you simply go in and mindlessly sacrifice or save everyone you encounter, your character will be vastly underpowered in no time.
+ Clever use of a hub instead of an over-world make the game very portable friendly, and ties directly into the storyline. A magical book, called Libron is able to transport players from their cell to relive key moments in the past. The book also has a ton of lore for players to get into if they care to learn more about the lore.
+ Play how you want. If you prefer to get up close and personal with enemies, morph your character into a melee fighter, if you would rather be a caster, by all means go for it. It’s great being able to play how you want, although players that create well rounded characters will likely have an easier time towards the end of the adventure.
+ Excellent use of the Vita hardware. The controls are spot on, with only minimal use of the touch screen during combat. Flipping through Libron is also highly rewarding.
+ Online play allows players to join forces to take on special Avalon Pact missions, which are surprisingly fun and fresh. Would have been awesome to bring a co-op buddy with me for the entire campaign though.
+ Impressive audio visuals, make full use of the Vita hardware. Some moments will have you shocked you’re playing on a portable. The voice acting, especially Libron is top tier.
– The lock-on targeting mechanic can sometimes force you to attack an enemy you don’t want to, and camera problems also pop up from time to time which can lead to an untimely death.
– Repetitive in nature. While there are a variety of quests, from killing X number of enemies, locating specific items, or hunting down powerful bosses, you often have to take part in a large number of side-quests in order to build your character up enough so the main campaign quests are manageable. After a while it becomes apparent you’re in for a major grind if you really want to finish the game.
Reaching over twenty hours of play time only to discover you’re nowhere near strong enough to take on the boss, and realizing you have to go back and grind previous missions to better tune your character.
Soul Sacrifice is a fun game that has some really great ideas behind it. The balancing and decision making alone are things I’d like to see revisited sometime in the future. Sadly the repetitive nature of the genre is ultimately what brings the experience down. If you enjoy these types of games, by all means give this one a download, but if they’re not your cup of tea you may want to hold off until something else peaks your interest. Sadly this isn’t the killer app Vita fans were hoping for, but it is a fun game just the same.
Final Score: 7.5/10